At the end of 2018, you couldn’t venture online without running into news about how to protect your endpoints. In security speak, endpoints are the user-facing elements of a network — the computers, the phones, the IoT devices etc. These devices tend to be the weakest link in an organization’s security strategy, so efforts to make them more secure took the world by storm.
However, it’s more than likely that whatever steps you took to protect your endpoints six months ago aren’t terribly effective today. Not only are cybercrime methods constantly evolving, but new endpoints with new applications can trip up or nullify even the strongest endpoint strategy. Even if you are certain your endpoints are safe — perhaps especially so — you should read about how endpoint security fails and what you can do to fix it.
You Don’t Really Understand Endpoint Security
Sure, you’ve heard the term “endpoint security,” and sure, you’ve read the basic definition online — keeping devices like laptops and smartphones secure — but if you aren’t totally clear on the goals and processes of endpoint security, you aren’t likely to make the right choices for your business.
To fix this, you should first work to understand what endpoint security is comprised of. At the very least, endpoint security consists of robust antivirus software and extensive firewalls, but these are beginner tools that only scratch the surface of endpoint protection capability. More effective endpoint solutions include:
- Port control. Ports include both physical connections, like USB ports, and digital connections, like email, web access, file transferring and more. Port control more often concerns the digital connections, blocking access to potentially dangerous services.
- Application control. Some applications are necessary for business, but others pose threats to the network. Controlling applications is key for preventing hazardous downloads.
- Endpoint detection and response. When a new endpoint connects to the network, you should be able to see it and respond to it immediately.
- Sandboxing. A sandbox is an isolated environment separate from other system resources and programs. It allows you to explore new software and tools without risking your network.
Other elements of endpoint security include data loss prevention, secure email gateways, cloud perimeter security and more. You need to educate yourself thoroughly on all of these capabilities before developing your endpoint security strategy to ensure you are properly defending your endpoints.
You Are Prioritizing the Wrong Endpoint Threats
Malware is a threat to SMBs, but it isn’t the only threat. If your endpoint security strategy begins and ends at antivirus software, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to a vast array of other types of attack. In fact, malware is hardly among the top cybersecurity attack methods this year. Much more common, especially against business targets, are attacks like DDoS, MitM, XSS and spear phishing. While some exceedingly popular malware varieties, like ransomware, are slipping onto business servers, the truth is that this probably shouldn’t be your sole focus, let alone your only focus. As mentioned above, antivirus is merely one element of a complete endpoint strategy, and the sooner you supplement your antimalware tools, the better.
You Aren’t Tracking the Trends in Endpoint Protection
No cybersecurity is set-and-forget, but endpoint security requires special attention. Because this facet of your broader security strategy is relatively new, it is subject to shifting trends to a greater degree. While some trends are easily ignored, others are important to remain abreast of to ensure your security strategy continues to work. You can find news about endpoint security on most any tech-focused website — including ours.
No One Is Accountable for Updating Your Strategy
Finally, it doesn’t do you much good to know about endpoint security and track endpoint trends if you aren’t in charge of updating your security strategy. If you are the leader of your business, you probably have hundreds of responsibilities that are pressing to the success of your business — thus, updating your endpoint security is a low priority for you, personally. However, it shouldn’t be a low priority for your business a whole, which means you need to appoint someone to look after your endpoints as a primary concern.
This doesn’t mean you need to lure a security expert away from Google or Amazon; you can outsource this task to a third-party security provider, as long as you are comfortable with the costs of doing so. For smaller businesses, outsourcing security is a good way to remain agile and keep costs down. However, medium-sized businesses with an on-site IT team should appoint someone to maintaining and updating endpoint security tactics as necessary. It’s 2019, and your endpoints are still at risk. It’s high time you do more research into endpoint security, especially as the tools and techniques evolve — and the threats do, too.